Trying to sort out the 'little things' that could attract bullying

(61 Posts)
Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 10:49:13

My 9 yo dd has been coming home complaining about two girls in her class. She has had poor speech, but whilst much better now, it still isn't perfect, especially when she's excited or stressed. I also suspect she may have aspergers, but never quite fits the profiles I've read about, and the school has never mentioned anything apart from her speech.

These two girls have, according to her, been mocking her, told her she's weird and not cool, says the things she likes are babyish ( they're not, but the one girl does have stuff which i dont want my dd to have yet. ie high heels, bras etc . They've told her she's irritating and annoying, and to go away.

The problem is, it's a small school - less than 10 kids in their year, and these girls have been playing with my dd's best friend, so my dd is feeling very isolated.

Without wanting to emphasise her 'quirkiness', I want to make sure we try and control as many of the common things kids will pick on, eg, hygiene, manners etc, so any ideas of what else to subtly target?

lljkk Sun 13-Jan-13 10:59:24

It's a bitchy age.
Anything you can do to build her confidence will help.
Judo was great for DD, because it's about managing conflicts, keeping your cool, accepting defeats but trying again, not being afraid of confrontation.

usualsuspect Sun 13-Jan-13 11:01:42

You need to sort out the bullying with the school,not change your DD.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 11:03:15

She is pretty bright, so but when we pointed out that she was better at maths and reading, she just said ' but that makes me a nerd'. She's also sporty but one of the other girls does acrobatics, which is obviously a lot cooler than being good at badminton or skiing.

RooneyMara Sun 13-Jan-13 11:03:52

I agree it gives totally the wrong message to your dd if you try to make her change, she will not be able to have any individuality at all if she has to appease everyone else sad

It's not the answer

RooneyMara Sun 13-Jan-13 11:04:36

I wish I knew what was though. I am so sorry she is going through this.

usualsuspect Sun 13-Jan-13 11:06:17

It is awful when your children are being bullied.Is the school aware of the situation?

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 11:07:45

I am planning to speak to the school as well. However, I do see that she has idiosyncrasies that children outside the school see, so I want to try and lessen those as well, and tackle both sides of the problem.

I suppose what I find upsetting, is that I can see why she is a natural target, and I want to take measures to sort those reasons out.

edam Sun 13-Jan-13 11:10:41

Have a look at Kidscape the anti-bullying charity. Your dd's school will have an anti-bullying policy - do talk to her teacher about this. I have a thread running in primary education at the moment because ds is being bullied btw... it's miserable, isn't it? I have a lump in my throat even thinking about it.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 11:11:43

Ihave mentioned that she is upset about the girls trying to split her up from her best friend, but we only heard the rest of it this weekend.

RooneyMara Sun 13-Jan-13 11:18:08

Yes that is understandable - of course it is - but children will find something about anyone if they are determined.

You must make sure she doesn't think it is because of her. It's patently not.

No such thing as a natural target. sad

How about trying to strengthen her, to make sure she has some confidence about these issues, rather than taking the reactive line and trying to get rid of them?

I mean say it was her speech - instead of trying to make her sound like them, celebrating the fact she has that unique voice of her own.

Can you see where I am coming from?

RooneyMara Sun 13-Jan-13 11:18:43

What are the issues you perceive btw? Can we help with anything specific?

Your DD sounds lovely, by the way.

If you are talking about strengthening her friendship skills, DD has this book which we used to start conversations to increase her confidence.

Or you can download some cards here that you could use to start some conversations with your DD:

Are there any activities she can go to which would have some other children who aren't from the same school, to ease the pressure-cooker aspect of it?

DD goes to Brownies and loves it. She has managed to get loads of badges through application and hard work, which has really boosted her confidence.

kiwigirl42 Sun 13-Jan-13 11:39:22

My son has quirks and does get picked on at times. We acknowledge his quirkiness and ensure he knows that these are the things that make him so special and that we wouldn't have him any other way. We make sure he knows that school is just a small part of his life and that he will soon be past petty kids. He is at high school now and punched the nose of the last kid who bullied him and has 2 good friends who are just as quirky as him grin

singingmum Sun 13-Jan-13 11:58:03

My DD is 12 and weird (her word) and she loves it. Although HE which people think means no bullying she has been bullied by a very vindictive girl on our estate who has removed my dd's friend. My dd just said ok well if you don't like me its ok I have other friends.
My dd celebrates her little differences. She's into gothic clothing and costume and loves medical programmes and crime drama. She believes in being nice to those who aren't nice as she knows from what we have taught her that it annoys the idiots as they can't throw stuff that's not there.
We would not make her change something that makes her who she is just to fit in as we think that in the end it's her quirks that make her special.
She does now attend a drama class which pushes the same belief, that you have to accept yourself and be yourself as in the end those that matter will accept you for you.
Don't get your dd to change anything about herself as its the bullies that need to change. If you don't teach her that it is them not her then she will never gain confidence to be who she is

Ineedmorepatience Sun 13-Jan-13 12:01:44

Hi slug, I am answering this as the parent of a girl with Aspergers. Tbh girls often dont meet the criteria because it has been written with boys in mind as there are allegedly more boys than girls with aspergers.

I have to say on MNSN and in my support group we have a much more even split than the publisied 4 to 1.

I am mentioning this because as girls get older and in some cases nastier being quirky can become a massive problem.

I decided to seek a diagnosis for Dd3 partly because I had significant concerns about her surviving secondary school. Socially Dd3 is roughly 2 yrs behind her peers, if this doesnt change in the next 2 yrs she will go to secondary with social skills similar to a 9 yr old.

I know she is going to struggle with the transition and with the unstructured times.

If you genuinely have concerns about you Dd having aspergers I would recommend that you get some advice.

The senco at school may be able to help although they often lack knowledge of girls with the condition.

The best place for advice is the special needs children board here on mumsnet. There is a wealth of friendly knowledge over there and there is usually someone who can answer questions about any concerns you have.

Sorry this is so long.

Good luck whatever you decide to do smile

Ineedmorepatience Sun 13-Jan-13 12:04:37

Oh and I meant to say, getting a dx for my Dd3 actually made it much easier to encourage her to be who she is and not to try to force her to conform to the "norm" (whatever that is).smile

thornrose Sun 13-Jan-13 12:31:29

I have a dd with Aspergers, she managed quite well at primary school and had a small group of friends. Now she has started high school she is struggling massively as her old friends have "ditched" her sadly.
If she didn't have a diagnosis I dread to think how she would cope as she needs way more support than I expected.
My dd doesn't fit the profiles either, like Ineed said, girls present quite differently. I would second the suggestion you get some advice.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 12:43:14

Thanks for all your responses.

She did have problems with her sinuses, which ended up having to be scraped under GA, but these problems caused her to have a semi permanently blocked nose for a while, so she was constantly sniffing.

It's really hard to explain the other things - more mannerisms, and talking gibberish - which she doesn't do at home, but does to people she's not confident with. It seems like she imitates how grown-ups chat, but it just comes across a bit weird? I don't think I'm explaining myself particularly well.

I have numerous times googled aspergers, but haven't been sure if actually trying to get a diagnosis would seem as though I'm telling her that I think there is something strange about her. The school have never mentioned anything apart from her speech.

She has also asked me to get her more speech therapy, as she taped herself speaking, and got really upset as it didn't sound like she thought she did.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 12:43:57

Did you get advice through the school or through the health visitor?

JustAHolyFool Sun 13-Jan-13 12:47:38

Please please please don't try to change her. My mum did this to me and it fucked me up more than any bullying did.

badguider Sun 13-Jan-13 12:48:31

"cool" is totally and utterly subjective - there's no rule book that says acrobatics is cooler than skiing, in fact, i'd totally disagree there.
The ONLY thing that controls 'cool' is confidence, if i were you i wouldn't try to change your DD at all except to build her self-confidence.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 13:02:58

It's not that I'm trying to change her. It's just I see how people react to her - children and adults - and I want to see if I can help her behave in a manner which is not going to produce rolled eyes, or embarrassed silences.

If I didn't think it was causing her problems or likely to in the future, I would leave well alone. She has done lots of activities outside school, and is very friendly and very good fun if people give her a chance.

I know she's not happy at the moment, and apart from making sure her table manners etc are ok, I haven't tried to change her. I do feel I need to acknowledge her differences though, so I can support her, rather than ignore it.

Ineedmorepatience Sun 13-Jan-13 14:04:12

My Dd3 is also fun and a very good friend to a small select group of both boys and girls who like her for who she is.

She would have had aspergers with or without a diagnosis but at least with it she is getting some support which helps her to understand why she is different.

I think by 10 most children wouldbe beginning to realise that they are different but could be finding it difficult to understand why.

If your Dd does have aspergers then she may not have the ability to put her feelings in to words.

I didnt get any support from Dd3's original school so I went to my GP to ask for an assessment.
If your Dd's school is supportive,I would start there with the SENCO.

Good lucksmile

Catchingmockingbirds Sun 13-Jan-13 14:10:30

Ds has ASD, unfortunately he's got a big chance of being bullied so he's been going to Tae Kwon Do since he was 4.

thegreylady Sun 13-Jan-13 15:54:58

Make sure her clothes and equipment-bag etc are in line with the trnd of the moment-sounds simple [I dont mean expensive designer stuff] but those are the 'picked on' things at first.
That done ask her what she would like to do eg set up an outing for your dd and her friend.
If she has an ASD dx eventually you can move forward from there but atm you havent so dont jump into a label before you need to.

Catchingmockingbirds Sun 13-Jan-13 16:53:13

"I have numerous times googled aspergers, but haven't been sure if actually trying to get a diagnosis would seem as though I'm telling her that I think there is something strange about her."

You wouldn't be telling her there's something strange about her, you'd be helping her get the appropriate support that she would need and be entitled to if she did have AS. Getting a dx is very difficult when you're older and she may need help if she goes to uni or any other time in the future. If she is AS then having a reason for struggling with certain things is invaluable, and she may also really appreciate having other like-minded people to relate to in support groups/online support pages.

Parents don't seek a dx to put a label on their children, they seek it to maximise their DC's chances of getting the help and support that they need. The 'labelling' train of thought is ridiculous and belittles the struggles that both dc and parents go through IMO.

JustAHolyFool Sun 13-Jan-13 16:56:28

"Make sure her clothes and equipment-bag etc are in line with the trnd of the moment-sounds simple [I dont mean expensive designer stuff] but those are the 'picked on' things at first."

That is horrible advice sad

"Fit in and you'll be fine" - what the hell are we teaching our children?

fivesacrowd Sun 13-Jan-13 17:17:43

My dd is 9 too and I had long chat with her teacher on Friday about bully in her class. Teachers opinion is that its all part of growing up and girls tend to be horrible a this age. Kind of agree with her in a way. My dd is bullied because she refuses to be the bullies friend, let her dictate how she wears her hair, what bag she has, what lunch she brings etc. She's picked on because she's confident and self assured (youngest of 3) and weirdly never bullied about the hearing aids she wears. She says that she doesn't tell her teacher when this girl is horrible to her because it happens every day and she doesn't want to keep telling the teacher the same thing over and over again - hence chat on Friday.
My advice op is stay strong, let the school know and hope they deal with it. It's all part of growing up unfortunately and I hope that if she can learn to cope with it now, it'll make life easier when she reaches high school and the bullying really kicks in.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 17:37:48

I actually agree with what thegreylady is saying to a certain extent. She is getting picked on anyway, so if by making sure her lunch box and bags are 'acceptable' it gives the bullies one less thing to pick on, then fair enough.

She is convinced they will all like her if only she could get her ears pierced, which I find more concerning. I've told her she can for her birthday, but not before, and explained that earrings should not make any difference to proper friendships.

JustAHolyFool Sun 13-Jan-13 17:41:20

But what message are you sending her OP? If people don't like you, change yourself until they do.

I understand it's a really hard situation, but giving her the confidence to be herself will stand her in far better stead both now and in the future.

googietheegg Sun 13-Jan-13 17:48:10

I'd add that some things can make bullying more likely - a girl with a moustache or v hairy legs, bad clothes/school bag, poor hygiene, a v 'different' packed lunch, 'embarrassing' or v fat parents picking them up in a really bad car ... Loads of stuff. I'd make sure its nothing you can change first.

googietheegg Sun 13-Jan-13 17:49:44

It's fine to have the right stuff. As adults we wouldn't want to start a new job in a crappy suit with a tatty bag would we? It's just real life

JustAHolyFool Sun 13-Jan-13 17:59:13

I'm not suggesting sending the girl to school in rags. I'm suggesting the girl chooses what she wants rather than picks things because she thinks it will make her popular.

iklboo Sun 13-Jan-13 18:00:57

If all I could afford when I started new job was crappy suit & tatty bag it'd have to do until payday. I wouldn't expect to be bullied by my colleagues about it.

usualsuspect Sun 13-Jan-13 18:03:06

Bit of victims blaming going on here.

usualsuspect Sun 13-Jan-13 18:03:37


sydlexic Sun 13-Jan-13 18:11:42

My DS got off the school bus year 7 ran over and held my hand. I told him not to do that in front of his friends as they may laugh at him. He said then they are not my friends and their opinion counts for nothing. I think he was right.

Don't change your DD, try to find her some like minded friends either in or out of school.

RooneyMara Sun 13-Jan-13 18:14:24

Yes sad I think the OP needs some confidence in her daughter, and in sticking to this standpoint. It's very hard to cave under pressure and think it's your own child's fault.

It took me ages to realise that I was all they had - I used to joke about ds1, when he was a baby and always apologise on his behalf, in hindsight it was awful, who ever stood up for him? I don't mean like the woman someone described, always having a go at him - but just joking and so on. 'Oh he always does that' etc.

We are all they have. If we won't stand up for them who will.

Fwiw I was a fairly odd child. My parents didn't say much - my mother agreed I was odd, my sister certainly told me they were right to pick on me.

I grew up believing I'm odd and will never be acceptable - very damaged, and I find making friends very very hard indeed. I'm always scared of them realising what I am really like, ie not acceptable, somehow, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Only years later did I find that people who knew me at school, friends, colleagues and so on actually thought I was really cool - different in some ways but in a good way. I still can't believe them because the damage is done.

You need to be there right with her, believe in her, be the person at her side, watching her back, loving her. She sounds gorgeous.

and all the things I tried desperately to change about myself when I was young? Now I look back and I cry because those things were great. sad

I wonder if somehow, not meant to upset you but her self esteem is pretty low because she senses your doubts over her acceptability? I know how you feel, really I do. But you need to get past it in order to help her.

the worst thing possible for attracting a bully is low self esteem and we get that from the people closest to us x

RooneyMara Sun 13-Jan-13 18:15:08

Sorry, first sentences make no sense - very hard NOT to cave under pressure, I meant.

JustAHolyFool Sun 13-Jan-13 18:26:54

Rooney sad I feel the same. I really resent my family for just compounding how I felt at school. Yes, I was a little odd, always had the wrong clothes/shoes/bag, but I wore what I liked and I was really resolute about it.

My mum and brother would just say it was no wonder no-one liked me.

Shit times.

RooneyMara Sun 13-Jan-13 18:29:58

Indeed. Sorry sad

DeWe Sun 13-Jan-13 19:02:45

I get what the OP is trying to say. She's not saying that her dd needs to change, or there's anything wrong with her, but just wondering how she can help minimise bullying by little things.

My dd1 is very much the cat the walked by herself. She still wears her hair in 2 plaits in year 7, was one of the only girls left wearing summer uniform in year 6, lots of little things like that, which mark her out as different. Last year, in year 6, there were a few times when she commented that she was different because XXX. I'd say "do you want to do/have XXX" and she'd say "no, I like whatever I have".
This year she's begun noticing what others have and following if she likes it.

Strangely she is much more comfortable in herself and around others now she is making little attempts to be like them. She is still herself, and still there are some things she likes and won't change (like hair in 2 plaits) but trying to fit in in little ways has raised her self esteem rather than knocked it.

sunshine401 Sun 13-Jan-13 19:09:11

Why are you trying to change your DD? You need to go to school and the bullying needs to be stopped. Bullying is NOT acceptable and parents need to go in to the school and not give up till it has stopped. By trying to change your DD to stop the bullies is not on and is totally sending out the wrong message to your child.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 19:26:02

I agree the bullying needs to be stopped. But if there is a bigger picture, then I'm trying to work out how to address it. She is a lovely funny girl, and those who know her well, she all that side to her. But I don't want her to be sidelined because people won't give her the chance. And in the size of school, it really isn't a case of finding a new group of friends.

I do take on board about not letting her feel that I think she needs to change, but , if there is a condition for which she could get support, then should I not look into it.

For what it's worth, my dh just feels that she just gets too nervous with people she doesn't know well, and that that is why she sometimes acts differently. It could be true.

thornrose Sun 13-Jan-13 19:42:36

Slug - I hear what you are saying about the bigger picture.
I "teach" my dd social skills without even thinking, all the time. Little things, prompts about staring, walking too close to people etc.
I don't believe I am encouraging her to change in order to fit in. I believe I'm giving her a chance for people to get to know her.
I think that's what you are trying to do?

TheLightPassenger Sun 13-Jan-13 19:51:03

I agree with Thornrose. It's a delicate balance re:possible/probable SN- it's not about changing your child, but about trying to make sure they have age appropriate social skills as far as possible, while at the same time encouraging their self esteem. About giving your child the ability to fit in/conform if that's what they choose to do.

Possibly some sort of drama classes or public speaking/debating classes might help if she tends to speak too fast etc when stressed.

thornrose Sun 13-Jan-13 19:58:18

It is indeed a delicate balance.
In many ways I push my dd out of her comfort zone because she expresses very clearly that she is not happy being considered "quirky". I'm sure people will disagree but I feel it's the right thing for her.

RooneyMara Sun 13-Jan-13 20:00:06

Yes of course it is right to look into any condition she may have. I've probably been on the autistic spectrum all my life and never had a formal diagnosis.

Coping mechanisms mean that I appear pretty normal at a first impression. I just compensate by staying out of social situations as much as I can as too much of it has a bad effect on me - I can't cope with too much input.

Having a diagnosis early in life would really have helped me.

I hope you manage to figure out what is going on with her, and to help her feel less unusual and more confident.

thornrose Sun 13-Jan-13 20:06:59

Rooney, I was so scared to tell dd she had Aspergers. I had to have counselling to get my head around it.
When I told her she was relieved, she finally knew why she had always felt different. I will never forget it, her first words were "Oh my god, I have a syndrome" grin

Ineedmorepatience Sun 13-Jan-13 22:16:48

I work hard to help my Dd3 fit in too and so do the SN team at her school.

We have spent alot of time working on greeting people socially, she has never said Hello or goodbye without being prompted and that makes her stand out with her peer group and their parents.

Teaching her to do this will not change who she is but it might help her to fit in socially and not appear rude and aloof.

Tbh, getting the dignosis has been a very positive step forward for us.

JustAHolyFool Sun 13-Jan-13 22:24:46

I see what you're saying Ineed . Maybe I judged the OP a bit harshly, sorry if I caused you any upset OP, you're obviously having a hard time.

All about balance isn't it?

Sorry again.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 22:31:22

Thank you all. I'll find out what her teachers feel with regards to SNs, and will keep going with practicing social skills. She has seemed a lot happier since she has talked about what has been going on, and I guess the next step is to see how the school handles the situation.

Sluginthejam Sun 13-Jan-13 22:36:20

That's ok, holyfool. I feel that ideally what you say would be correct, and she shouldn't need to change. However if things are happier for her if she conforms, then that would possibly give a better outcome.

I am confident that she knows I love her unconditionally, I just want to make her life easier.

thornrose Sun 13-Jan-13 22:38:42

Slug, I can tell you love her unconditionally so she definitely knows.

Kleinzeit Sun 13-Jan-13 23:00:04

Having social skills is a lot more important to avoid bullying than having the right schoolbag or a bra. Given that your DD has asked for more therapy, you could go along to the GP and mention your concerns, and also perhaps to the speech therapist, as part of deciding what kind of therapy would be most useful for her now. Some speech and language therapists deal with social skills and with other aspects of language like when to talk and what to say, and non-verbal things like eye contact and body language, therapies which are helpful for kids with Asperger’s as well as many others.

Goldmandra Sun 13-Jan-13 23:09:12

I have two DDs with AS and I've come to the conclusion that it's not my job to help them fit in.

It's my job to (very sensitively) help them to understand how others may perceive their behaviour, conversation and how they present themselves.

It's their job to decide whether they would like to change and try to fit in or to carry on doing what make them feel comfortable. I back them to the hilt whatever they decide.

Having a dx helped my DD immensely. She said it helped her feel that she wasn't just strange and that, having spent all her life feeling left out she now belonged to a group of people like he who she understood. She found it a big relief.

sipper Mon 14-Jan-13 09:15:33

Hi Slug Sorry to read your 9yo having a difficult time.

Like other posters, I would definitely raise the issue with the school as they need to be made aware so they can keep a look out and actively tackle things if needed.

One of my DD's needs her confidence building. I've been reading about 'One Page Profiles' which I think sound like a great idea for self-esteem (also useful for child-centred learning).

This link sums it all up really well:

Some blurb on this page:
(Especially please see the short film at the very bottom of the page)

More info on these pages:

The film explains a lot. The profiles look really interesting. Simple, but seem like a great idea.

Media coverage:

I gave the info to my DD's school. I thought even if they didn't do it, perhaps I'd do it at home. But brilliantly the school have said they're going to do it! Perhaps your DD's school would too? It might be a helpful exercise and experience for all? Best wishes and I hope she has a happy time this year.

Sluginthejam Mon 14-Jan-13 11:19:11

Thanks very much sipper. I'll look through those. I have contacted the school, and am waiting to see their response.

Ineedmorepatience Mon 14-Jan-13 14:18:36

I love those one page profiles, I might introduce them at work to help with the transition process.

Dd3 has something similar in place at school , hers is called a passport. It has relevant info in the same as the profile.

It has helped her to feel more confident when working with teachers who dont know her well.

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